We all get them: stupid email forwards. Misguided (or just plain idiotic) friends, relatives and coworkers forward us stuff that promises to be “hilarious” or “amazing,” when it’s actually so damn stupid, you want to reach through the computer and strangle them for sending it to you. These emails belong in the Stupid Email Hall of Fame. This week’s edition is one of the greats. It’s a legend that has circulated the internet millions of times and persists even to this day:
Subject: FW: Microsoft and AOL merger
I'm forwarding a forwarded message...read on, it it works you may get $$ from Microsoft. Certainly Bill has enough to share-maybe today we'll be blessed financially!
I am forwarding this because the person who sent it to me is a good friend and does not send me junk. Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet company and in an effort make sure that Internet explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test. When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it (if you are a Microsoft Windows user) for a two week time period. For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $5.00, for every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $3.00 and for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $1.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a check. I thought this was a scam myself, but two weeks after receiving this e-mail and forwarding it on, Microsoft contacted me for my e-mail and within days, I received a check for $800.00.
Ah, remember the first time you got that one? And thanks to grannies and aunts and uncles who are just now getting computers, chances are you might still receive this one every now and then. Of course, it’s a total hoax. Bill Gates nor anyone else will send you money for forwarding an email. And there is no such thing as an email tracking device.
Here’s an official statement from Bill Gates on the matter:
Even more annoying than spam, in some respects, are hoaxes. I’m acutely aware of this because my name was recently attached to a hoax email message that was widely distributed.
People embellished the fraudulent email over time, as it was forwarded from electronic mailbox to electronic mailbox, but an early version read this way:
“My name is Bill Gates. I have just written up an e-mail tracing program that traces everyone to whom this message is forwarded to. I am experimenting with this and I need your help. Forward this to everyone you know and if it reaches 1000 people everyone on the list will receive $1000 at my expense. Enjoy. Your friend, Bill Gates.”
The bogus message was widely forwarded, which surely led to some disappointment from people who hoped to receive $1,000 for passing along what was essentially a chain letter.
Have you received something like this? Or does this email pale in comparison to some of the stupid crap you’ve received? If so, forward those dumb emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll mock and debunk (if necessary) these stupid emails every Wednesday.